How is a 45nm transistor made

Intel produces the first 45 nm chips

At the beginning of January, Intel's process development laboratory in Hillsboro / Oregon completed the first working test chips in the 45 nm process (P1266). This reported Intel's development manager Mark Bohr in a conference call. The most important part of the "shuttle" test chip, which is manufactured on 300 mm wafers, is an SRAM with over a billion transistors and a capacity of 153 Mbit, the cells of which are 0.346 μm2 are only half as large as those in the current 65 nm process (P1264).

The goal of achieving significant improvements in the performance and power consumption of CPUs compared to the 65 nm series production that started just a few months ago can be clearly seen: Depending on the design goal, the chip designers can use the new process technology to either increase the switching speed of the Increase transistors by over 20 percent or reduce losses due to leakage currents by a factor of 5. The active energy requirement for switching the transistors will fall by more than 30 percent, predicted Bohr.

In addition to SRAMs, Intel has a total of over 600 mm2 large test chip, PROMs, high-speed register files, I / O circuits, PLLs and various discrete structures are also applied. This means that essential preparatory work has been done for integration in 45 nm CPUs, explained Bohr. Important production and test parameters can also be seamlessly transferred to the manufacture of the logic circuits. Among other things, these test objects give Intel reliable data on the performance, reliability and production yield of the manufacturing process.

"No other company is as advanced as we are with the 45-nm process," said Bohr, a senior fellow at Intel's Oregon research facility. CPUs from this production are chips from the most modern 65-nm factories (of which Intel has just put the second into operation) in terms of transistor density by around twice as much, Bohr promised.

Because of this milestone, Intel believes that it will be able to manufacture processors using the new manufacturing technology from the second half of 2007. This is in line with tradition, because up until now there has always been a period of about one and a half years from the manufacture of the first test chips to the start of CPU production with new process technologies. Mark Bohr presented the 65 nm technology in November 2003.

Intel is still largely silent about the tricks and techniques with which the inventors in Hillsboro have brought the new production technology so far. What is clear is that 193 nm lithography will continue to be used (Intel rejected the original plan to switch to 154 nm two years ago). According to Bohr, the SOI technology used by IBM and AMD is still not being used, "bulk silicon" remains. However, he did not provide any information on whether new materials were used in the formation of the transistors. Experts rather doubt this.

What is certain, however, is that "strained silicon" will be used again to increase the mobility of the charge carriers. This technique, in which the gaps in the silicon electron lattice are slightly increased through contact with a silicon-germanium layer, is already used in the 65 nm process. It allows higher switching speeds without introducing completely new types of material or significantly changing the physical dimensions of the gates (both of which lead to uncertainties in leakage current behavior, for example).

The SRAMs manufactured a few days ago have a chip area of ​​119 mm2 slightly larger than comparable test vehicles from previous generations of production. The current Intel boss Otellini showed the first SRAMs in 65 nm technology at the autumn IDF 2003. They had a capacity of 70 Mbit and measured 110 mm2. The 90 nm samples from February 2002 stored 50 Mbit and were 109 mm2 large.

As with the current 65 nm production, the first 45 nm series products will also come from Intel's D1D factory in Hillsboro. After that, the Fab 32 in Arizona and Fab 28 in Israel, which are currently in preparation, will start. In addition to the 45 nm processors, Intel is already working on the next generation. The process technology for a 32 nm production is in development, explained Bohr. He is expecting series production from the second half of 2009. (Erich Bonnert) / (as)

Read comments (104) Go to homepage
Ad ad